Spiritual Formation

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Abstract

Spiritual Formation: A History of Mysticism portrays a spiritual pilgrimage. It is a journey we take in our faith lives. Mystical experiences from the Old and New Testaments are described as are the revelations of early church leaders, from Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, to later European mystics and Saints such as John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. The eighteenth-century Enlightenment saw mystics, such as John and Charles Wesley, emphasize a “social holiness” evidenced in social action, such as Wilberforce’s Anti Slavery Crusade. This emphasis on practical holiness continued with William and Catherine Booth’s founding of The Salvation Army, which is typically Wesleyan in its understanding of holiness-in-action, and aligned with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s Natural Evolutionary Theology. The authors argue that spiritual leaders, poets, and musicians satisfy Matthew Fox’s definition of a mystic as holding a “vital belief in a transcendent reality … as they can communicate with that reality by direct experience”. This book provides a framework for ministry, social justice action, and policy with practical disciplines for the spiritual journey.